How many of us had West Virginia making a bowl game after losing to Baylor 45-20 in early October? I know I certainly did not. At the time, that loss dropped their record to 2-4, meaning that they had to at least go 4-2 in the back half of the schedule against the likes of TCU, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas, and Kansas. They did exactly that.
It may not have been pretty, but the Mountaineers went 4-2 after the bye and now have a chance to send the seniors off with a bowl win next month. Sure, it's still a disappointing season, but finishing the season on a potential three-game winning streak (if they win the bowl) will give this team some confidence moving into 2022.
There is a big question mark surrounding the decision of starting quarterback Jarret Doege who has one year of eligibility remaining. If he does indeed return to Morgantown, the one thing you can hang your hat on is that there was a noticeable improvement from him in the final six games of the season. Did he still have his moments that make you tilt your head? Absolutely, but he looked great in the wins over TCU, Iowa State, and Texas. Doege went 78/117 (66%) for 917 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions in those games.
Aside from the future of at quarterback, the next biggest concern was what the Mountaineers would have in the backfield once Leddie Brown departs. Well, after landing former Clemson RB Lyn-J Dixon in the transfer portal and Tony Mathis rushing for 118 yards on 22 carries on Saturday, I'd say they feel pretty good about that room moving forward. Yes, it was Kansas, a defense that allows 249 yards on the ground per game but his contact balance, cuts, and slashing running style will give any opposing team trouble. Mix in Justin Johnson Jr. and Jaylen Anderson and the Mountaineers have a potential four-headed beast in the backfield. A running game by committee may be the best way to approach 2022 after losing Leddie Brown anyway. That is until one of those guys truly separates himself.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers will be losing several seniors including Dante Stills, Josh Chandler-Semedo, Scottie Young Jr., Alonzo Addae, VanDarius Cowan, and a few others. Getting to a bowl game is huge for this side of the ball. The youngsters that will need to assume a larger role next season will benefit from the extra practices. In particular, Safety Saint McLeod, defensive end Sean Martin, and linebacker Lanell Carr are guys that could be difference-makers next season. The more reps they can get, the better.
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